Without question, Thanksgiving is a hunter’s holiday. While turkeys roast at home, in the early morning hours grunt calls sound off, decoys bob, and dog bells jingle. I’ve hunted my share of Thanksgivings, but not in a while. Not since I bought a boat have I commenced turkey day anywhere other than a quarter-mile off the beach, looking for diving gulls and gannets.
The frost I walk on Thanksgiving morning is not on leaves, but coating the dock before sun rise. The engine will be cold, but she’ll turn over on the third try, and I’ll follow the long procession of green and red navigation lights through Oyster Creek Channel, around the lighthouse, and into the gray ocean.
On Thanksgiving, the usual cutthroat attitude of the fleet seems to simmer a bit. The regulars know that Uncle Mike and cousin Steve from out of town are stripermen just for today. They’ll let crossed lines slide and not get as worked up when a stray jig bounces off their hulls. On Thanksgiving, it’s as though everyone wants to see everyone else catch fish. You might even hear a good bite broadcast on the radio, because we all have time limits today…when the wife says 3 o’clock, it means 3 o’clock.
And the blitzes are often epic on Thanksgiving. It can be hard to drive away. So I’ll forgo cleaning the boat if it buys another half-hour on the water, I’ll skip a shower and say Grace with a few bass scales plastered to my hands, and I’ll try not to fall asleep face-down in the mashed potatoes. I won’t be much for dinner conversation, but I wouldn’t start Thanksgiving any other way.
Anyone else have a Thanksgiving fishing tradition? No matter what you do, good luck, have fun, relax, and be safe tomorrow.__